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A menu is a list of dishes to be served at a meal. Menus have been around in Europe since the 18th century. There is a special need for them in Chinese cuisine because of the wide range of dishes on offer. Menus have been discovered from the Song Dynasty in China. In the larger cities of the time, the variety of cuisine from different regions led caterers to create a list for their patrons.

In restaurants, the modern menu, with dishes in a set order of courses, was invented by the great French chef Escoffier. Usually there are two types of menu at a good restaurant:

  • table d'hôte: a set menu at a fixed price (prix fixée).

  • à la carte: a wider choice of items, each with its own price.

Lesser establishments might offer a chalkboard, with the advantage that items can be rubbed out or added on at short notice.

Let's take a closer look at menus, specifically table d'hote, a la carte and a few more service styles that remain unsung for many decades.

A La Carte: French for "according to the menu;" This menu usually features seasonal fare and offers greater flexibility for ordering when compared to a static menu.

Table d'Hote: French for "the host's table." All main courses have a set price with the customer's choice of an appetizer or dessert. Surcharges may apply if certain appetizers and desserts are pricier.

Prix Fixe: A meal that includes an appetizer, entree, and dessert that is set at one price. Unlike a Table d'Hote menu, the chef picks the three courses in a Prix Fixe menu, whereas a Table d'Hote allows customers to pick and choose their set of three courses.

Tasting Menu: A collection of a certain number of small courses that serves as a customer's entire meal. Tasting menus can be tweaked to fit dietary needs or created anew if the same customer is dining again, giving them a whole new tasting menu experience.

Du Jour: A menu that changes daily. Plat du jour is a dish of the day, which is equivalent to a daily special

Static menu: Separated into categories like appetizers, pastas, sandwiches, sides, etc. The dishes are served all year-round and are mostly prevalent in fast casual and fast food restaurants.

That's all for today folks! Remember Dinner Thyme offers many different menu styles, themes and cuisines for all your special events! Get in touch today for your Holiday Celebrations. Cheers, and have a great day!

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